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The first Christmas card was created by Sir Henry Cole in
England in 1843.  Cole was looking for an efficient way to respond to
hundreds of Christmas letters.  He asked artist John Horsley to design a
card containing three panels and a simple message. The outer panels pictured
people caring for the poor, while the center panel showed a family Christmas
celebration.  He had a thousand copies printed.

Cole’s peers liked the idea and soon began having their own
Christmas cards designed and printed.  The idea spread and anyone with the
funds could purchase a Christmas card for a shilling each.   

Christmas cards were first sold in the United States in 1875
by lithographer Louis Prang.  Prang used chromolithography—color printing.  The cards featured animals and nature scenes
and a simple message.  Within a few years Prang was selling 5 million
cards a year. 

The popularity of Christmas card brought about competition
in the industry.  Cash prizes were offered for the best design.  In
the late 1800s elaborate Victorian style cards with snow-scenes were the most
desired.  Around 1900 holiday postcards,
which were less expensive to produce and mail, came into style. 

This Christmas postcard was sent to Miss Hattie Aiken

in Mt. Airy, NC on December 24, 1931.

The Transylvania County Library has a number of holiday
postcards.  Most of these came from the collection of Hattie Aiken. 
Born in 1886, Hattie Aiken grew up in the East Main St. home of her parents
William and Mary Lankford Aiken.  After teaching at Brevard Institute for a few years, she taught
at schools in Wilkes and Surry counties for 29 years.  Upon retirement
Miss Hattie returned to the family home in Brevard and operated it as a
boarding house for many years.  Legible postmarks on the cards dated them
from 1908-1935.
  Miss Hattie passed away at the age of 96 on
Christmas Day, 1982. 

A cousin from Candler, NC mailed this Christmas postcard

to Miss Jerdie Pressley on December 23, 1910.

There are also a
small number of Christmas postcards sent to Miss Jerdie Pressley of Glenville,
NC in Jackson County.  Jerdie Pressley was born in 1898 and married H.
Jasper Wilson on August 19, 1917.  The postcards are all addressed to
Jerdie Pressley, with the earliest postmarked 1910.

The library’s postcard collection is available for browsing
in the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room on the second floor.

Photographs and
information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina
Room, Transylvania County Library.  Visit the NC Room during regular library
hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about our history and see additional
photographs.  For more information, comments or suggestions contact Marcy
[email protected] or 828-884-3151 X242.

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(828) 884-3151

212 S Gaston St, Brevard, NC 28712